People usually cite It Follows as one of the movies that reignited the American horror, but I think that The Witch is actually a much more qualified and better entry. It is so strange that this movie even became popular and a lot of things had to come together in order for this to happen. One of the main reasons is the fact that people were hungry for that visceral and psychological vibe that most modern horror movies lack. If we add the quirkiness and an extremely interesting script (ye olde English), we get a pretty scary horror movie that feels refreshing and truly frightening. Beginning with the title of the movie that features stylized VV instead of W, because the letter W was not in broad use during the 17th century. The VVitch is a movie based on folktales, fairy tales and written accounts of witchcraft and as such it offers a unique take on this whole genre that became too commercialized with entries such as Maleficent, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Snow White and the Huntsman and Beauty and the Beast. It also provides us with additional knowledge of the beginnings of religious prosecution that culminated sixty years later with Salem Witch Trials. Shot with a budget of just $4 million, this movie looks and feels amazing, especially considering that it was a directorial debut for Robert Eggers, who also wrote the script. If you’re expecting the standard-issue horror movie, with its concise storytelling, well-defined characters and sections, you might find The VVitch a bit boring or even not scary at all, so be sure to be in the mood for a movie like this. This is more of a movie for fans of the genre or people who like this psychological terror and you won’t find jump scares, deformed creatures or anything similar here.
It is the year of our lord Satan 1630 (I think for the first time this really makes sense) and life on the frontier is hard. After a falling out with the settlement one family must leave the protection of its walls and move to a farm near the woods. Here, William, Katherine and their five children live a simple life growing corn and tending to a small number of domestic animals. However, one day something will happen, something that will slowly start tearing this family apart. Apart and apart from god…
I think that the words “in perfect balance” best describe the beautiful cinematography we have the opportunity to check out here. The director did not choose those long hanging shots of nature that usually overpower the mood of the film, but used more subdued angles, keeping our focus on the characters. The brooding atmosphere that feels off and really disturbing is constant and at the end of the movie, I felt a relief that we are finally at the end of this journey. The tension rises with each scene as you are contemplating many things that are happening simultaneously from the destruction of the family to actual witchcraft and destinies of our protagonists. You simply do not know what’s going to happen next, what’s true or not and this feeling coincides with the feeling that our characters are having throughout the movie, living on the frontier. In recent years there have been several great and really authentically scary movies set during the 17th and 18th centuries in America, showing us just how fucked up and dangerous was life without the supporting structures of the community. Starring two Game of Thrones veterans Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie, the cast was stellar, giving performances that will be remembered. And those fucking twins, dear lord, the stuff of nightmares. Finally, if you’re looking for movies with similar atmosphere and general vibe be sure to check out Bone Tomahawk and rest of S. Craig Zahler’s work.
Director: Robert Eggers
Writer: Robert Eggers
Cast: Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson